Editor's note:

Few­er things give us more plea­sure than intro­duc­ing some­thing by Lacy Finn Bor­go. Lacy, as you may remem­ber, is a Ren­o­varé Min­istry Team mem­ber and the author of the beloved chil­dren’s Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion cur­ricu­lum, Life with God for Chil­dren, as well as sev­er­al fam­i­ly devotionals.

Today, we are delight­ed to fea­ture one of those devo­tion­als with an excerpt from Good Dirt: Advent, Christ­mas­tide & Epiphany. Yes, it’s mid-Novem­ber; but, it’s real­ly not too ear­ly to start plan­ning your Advent activ­i­ties, espe­cial­ly if you’re think­ing of try­ing some­thing new this year. To find this book as well as more Ren­o­varé rec­om­mend­ed Advent and Christ­mas books and music, please vis­it our resource page. Enjoy!

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide & Epiphany (Volume 1)

I hear the laments of par­ents. I am a lament­ing par­ent. Christ­mas is too much about the stuff. The stuff begins to clog up the super­mar­ket aisles as ear­ly as Sep­tem­ber. My kids are bom­bard­ed by ads try­ing to get them, to get me, to want to buy them their hearts’ desires of shiny junk. 

As a Chris­t­ian I want to cel­e­brate the birth of Jesus in a way that hon­ors him. Advent is four weeks of prepa­ra­tion for the King of cre­ation. When we put it that way it almost seems that four weeks isn’t long enough. Blue is the col­or for the sea­son, specif­i­cal­ly roy­al blue as my eldest daugh­ter reminds me, because Jesus is the King. 

I admit some­times I for­get that. 

With all the adver­tise­ments and the meals to pre­pare and the ever-present Christ­mas music, I can hard­ly think. I can hard­ly remem­ber. Advent is prepa­ra­tion, it’s remem­ber­ing; remem­ber­ing that roy­al blue is for a roy­al King. With all the dis­trac­tion that is mod­ern life, plus the added dis­trac­tion of Christ­mas, we need ways to remember.

Sev­er­al years ago at Ridge­land Com­mu­ni­ty Church, some saint­ly ladies taught me the impor­tance of Advent. They tutored my non-crafty” self through the process of mak­ing an Advent wreath. They taught me the sig­nif­i­cance of prepa­ra­tion for the Christ Child. I am for­ev­er grate­ful. Through the prac­tice of Advent I learned to lean in and cel­e­brate this blessed hol­i­day. Dur­ing those first few years of prac­tic­ing Advent it was just my hus­band and me, and sur­pris­ing­ly, we nev­er fought over who got to blow out the can­dles. Now, my chil­dren take turns to see who gets to blow can­dle wax all over the table. Advent is a sta­ple in our home. It is a prac­tice that grounds us to the truths of Jesus. There are oth­er prac­tices for Advent as well. Pick a few and give them a try this Advent sea­son. Here are a few prac­tices to try:

Try Fast­ing

Fast­ing dur­ing the Hol­i­day Sea­son? Yes! Fast­ing has been used as a tool for thou­sands of years to help us lis­ten. By turn­ing off oth­er things we open our hearts and minds to God who longs to whis­per his great love to those who will lis­ten. There are many ways and many things that we can fast to pre­pare for the roy­al Baby.

  • This time of year strikes fear in the minds of all par­ents who have the fore­sight to con­sid­er all the sug­ar their chil­dren are about to ingest. As a fam­i­ly, save all sweets for Sun­day. Sun­days are tra­di­tion­al­ly cel­e­bra­tion days, even dur­ing a time of fast­ing. Every Sun­day we cel­e­brate the res­ur­rec­tion – and what bet­ter way to taste and see that the Lord is good” than by sav­ing the sweets for Sun­day? Remem­ber we are mov­ing counter-clock­wise” to our cul­ture. Here in the sea­son of Advent, we active­ly wait.
  • Fast from media when all fam­i­ly mem­bers are togeth­er. Evenings are usu­al­ly the best time for most fam­i­lies. You can replace the usu­al TV time with a sea­son­al fun activ­i­ty, a fam­i­ly game, or read togeth­er. Try The Sto­ry of the Oth­er Wise Man.
  • Two Sat­ur­days dur­ing Advent eat rice and beans only. Break­fast, lunch, and din­ner. Dis­cuss what it must be like to have this every day. Decide as a fam­i­ly on a char­i­ty you would like to work with dur­ing the hol­i­days. Vol­un­teer at a soup kitchen.
  • Give up your gifts. Fast from giv­ing gifts to each oth­er this year. Instead, use the mon­ey to buy gifts for a fam­i­ly in your com­mu­ni­ty who has very lit­tle. Plan a covert oper­a­tion to drop off the gifts with­out being caught. Spend all four weeks of Advent planning.

Just Say Slow

This time of year is the busiest. Gifts to buy, par­ties to attend, food to make, and that is in addi­tion to work, school, and kids. On our con­ti­nent, cre­ation has tak­en its cues from the earth and is slow­ing down. Dur­ing Advent, the first signs of win­ter come. The trees are brown, ani­mals are hiber­nat­ing, and the sun sets ear­li­er. There is more dark than light. Dark gives the sig­nal to our bod­ies – slow down, reflect, and savor. It nev­er makes sense to go against God’s already estab­lished rhythm.

Advent is wait­ing time, where the air is lit­er­al­ly preg­nant with the pres­ence of God. Like all preg­nan­cies, too much stress and strain is not good for grow­ing. So slow down, make the space each day to watch and wait as your fam­i­ly grows with Mary’s bel­ly, ripe with the Christ child. I encour­age you to change gears this year. Get off the hol­i­day tread­mill and savor those qui­et moments of Advent. Say No, thanks,” to a few invi­ta­tions and respon­si­bil­i­ties. I’ve got a baby to wait for.”

What oth­er prac­tices might you and your fam­i­ly try? How might you talk about prepar­ing togeth­er for Advent? What ideas do your chil­dren have for help­ing your fam­i­ly to focus on the com­ing of Jesus?

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Excerpt­ed from Good Dirt: Advent, Christ­mas­tide, and Epiphany and used with per­mis­sion of the author.

Originally published November 2013